Updated: Oct 14
Think of what you do when you feel angry, your unconscious reaction is to clench your jaw. This same action of clenching happens in your hip when we feel threatened or hear bad news, our natural response to stress is to bend forward and raise our knees up into a fetal position to protect our core. This action uses the hips and when these muscles have been clenched tightly they can shorten and the tension never fully releases so it not only traps muscular tension, but also emotional tension as well. This unconscious tension can be held from one traumatic event, or lots of little events where the stress of feelings like sadness, fear and worry are stored at the hips. Throwing a hip opening pose or two into your routine will work wonders!
Because our hip flexors are such strong muscles, when we first approach for hip opening poses we can find this to be a challenging pose, but stick with it and it transforms into a very calming asana as you let go of stored stress. When you stretch in a hip opening pose, this releases any tensions that maybe blocking the area. This is the joy that can be found in the yoga poses in that as you stretch and release this area, you are working on bringing rejuvenation and balance to the body, mind and spirit.
Perform any of the following asanas in your routine for an opening of the hips and strengthening of related muscles.
Bound angle pose (Baddha Konasana)
This pose is one of the best hip openers counteracts chair, and cardio-crunched hips.
Bound Angle Pose
Begin in Easy Pose or Staff Pose — sitting comfortably with your sitting bones flat on the mat.
Draw your heels toward your pelvis. Place the soles of the feet together.
Clasp around your feet/toes with interlaced fingers.
Relax your groin to open your knees, and watch as they begin to melt towards the mat.
Subtly rotate your pelvis so you rest on the top of your sitting bones, and extend through the spine.
Actively ground down into the earth as you simultaneously extend out through the crown of your head — one long line of energy from your sit bones through your crown.
Hold for 3-5 minutes.
Stimulates abdominal organs, ovaries and prostate gland, bladder, and kidneys.
Stimulates the heart and improves general circulation.
Stretches the inner thighs, groins, and knees.
Helps relieve mild depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
Soothes menstrual discomfort and sciatica
Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
Therapeutic for flat feet, high blood pressure, infertility, and asthma.
Consistent practice of this pose until late into pregnancy is said to help ease childbirth.
Traditional texts say that Baddha Konasana destroys disease and gets rid of fatigue.
Groin or knee injury: Only perform this pose with blanket support under the outer thighs.
To realize added benefits, once in the pose bend your body forward at the waist, while keeping soles touching. Stretch your arms above your head, and bend till you can touch the floor with arms first then eventually the head should touch the floor. This would put you in the Butterfly Forward Bend Pose.
Forward Bend Lotus Pose
Straddle pose (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend also known as Straddle pose
Open your legs out into a V shape. You can bring the legs out as far as is comfortable, but you should be able to keep the toes pointed toward the ceiling while in this posture.
If you find your toes pointing in toward the floor, draw the legs a little closer and lift your chest higher. Start by just breathing some length into the spine.
After a few breaths upright, begin to walk your fingers forward. Pause when you feel the first surge of sensation and breathe there.
This is an intense hip opening pose. Once the initial intensity has settled a bit – continue to ease your way forward until you find a good stopping point, eventually finding a place where you can simply surrender and be heavy.
Stretches the insides and backs of the legs.
Stimulates the abdominal organs.
Strengthens the spine.
Calms the brain.
Releases groins muscles.
Lower-back injury: Sit up high on a folded blanket and keep your torso relatively upright. Avoid this pose if there is injury in the back, hip, knees and the hamstrings. If one is suffering from severe sacroiliac joint pain, avoid the practice. Important: DON’T RUSH – The point of the posture is to find resistance and breathe through it. Rushing beyond your sensations is not only physically unsafe but it’s robbing you from the true experience of release.
DETAILS – Continually check to make sure that there’s no sharp or stinging pain in the knees, ankles or low back. If there’s pain of any kind, back off and find a stopping point that feels more supportive to your body’s needs
Goddess pose (Utkata Konasana)
Start in a wide standing stance. Turn your toes out and your heels in, so your feet are pointed out at about a 45-degree angle.
Bend your knees in the same direction as your toes, and lower your hips down toward the height of your knees.
Reach your arms out at shoulder height and bend your elbows so that your fingertips point skyward. Spread your fingertips wide and activate the muscles across your back.
Engage your core muscles and draw your tailbone toward the floor. Keep your spine long.
Stay here for 30 seconds to one minute, then release.
Tips: Ensure that your knees are pointing in the same direction as your toes to help protect your joints. If necessary, adjust the placement of your feet. If you have any shoulder injuries or limitations, fold your palms together at the heart center as opposed to extending the arms. To explore a deeper variation of the pose, try lifting up onto the balls of your feet while keeping your thighs parallel to the floor and your knees over your toes.
Stretches your hips, groin, and chest.
Tones and strengthens the core muscles.
Strengthens the quadriceps and inner thigh muscles.
Heats the body and increases circulation.
Encourages downward energy (apana).
Activates root and sacral chakras.
Recent or chronic injury to the legs, hips or shoulders should avoid this pose.
These are just 3 of the many Hip opening exercises in Yoga. There are several that are far more advanced. Please follow our blog to keep updated on content.